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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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It's Just Baseball

Seriously. It’s not your health, your kids, your marriage, your job. It’s something you use to entertain yourself for three hours a night, and maybe think about for a couple more hours for further entertainment. Part of the fun of baseball is agonizing over it, of course, but that agony’s supposed to be a temporary condition in service of a higher purpose — the salty tears of woe making the tears of joy sweeter, or some such cheerful bullshit.

If baseball’s making you honest-to-goodness miserable, walk away from it for a bit. Go to the movies, have a date night, read a book. Build a model ship in a bottle, if you do that. You do you. Baseball will take care of itself just fine while you’re gone. Afraid you’ll miss something spectacular? Should that happen, it’ll be on SNY at least 40 times a year. You’ll get an infinity of second chances.

Is this current run of astonishing futility — losing nine of 10, with R.A. Dickey and the Nats threatening to make it 13 of 14 — agony in the pursuit of something sweeter? Probably not — most of the time we’re just kidding ourselves. But if you weren’t pretty good at talking yourself into things, you probably would’ve quit being a Mets fan by now. We’ve spent most of our lives in the desert talking about the couple of oases we stumbled across and a handful of mirages that looked pretty neat.

One problem with stretches is like this — besides the chronic unwatchable sucking, of course — is that it’s a reminder of the difference between tragedy and farce. Tragedy makes your endurance feel like heroism; farce all but dares you to admit you’re a mark.

Willie Mays on his knees pleading in vain with umpires? Tragedy.

Jason Phillips and Jay Bell and Mike Glavine impersonating a baseball team? Farce.

Daniel Murphy following the best two series of his baseball career with one of the worst? Tragedy.

Whatever the hell it is we’ve been watching for the last two weeks? Farce. Definitely farce.

If you’re ever unsure about the nature of your current misery, there’s this: farce is almost always a collective effort. (Or conspicuous lack thereof.)

Imagine I met you at Citi Field tomorrow morning and gave you a magic wand engraved with I FIX BASEBALL STUFF, but then I told you the wand only had one charge left. You’d probably aim it at one Metsian thing, hesitate and point it at something else, then look at me unhappily.

Would you fix the bullpen? The egregious defense? The anemic hitting? The guys who’ve gone from old but serviceable to apparently ancient and useless? The inexplicably lousy BABIP? The crappy weather? The coaching staff … because reasons? The manager because you’re tired of his voice? Ray Ramirez because he’s had it coming for years?

Good luck fixing farce.

What to fix Wednesday night? Robert Gsellman threw limp slider after limp slider down the middle. Mets defenders threw balls away and stumbled over them and lunged ineffectually for them. Hitters flailed helplessly with bases empty and also with them full. (Two sac flies, hooray!) Relievers bereaved. Pitching rotations were fumbled. Managers sought grumpy refuge amid the cliches of the perplexed.

Maybe at the end of the year we’ll look back and marvel that we overcame that star-crossed stretch in April to do great things. Maybe we’ll mourn the two weeks everything was shitty, and how that made the difference. Maybe we’ll recall this year as the one that went in the toilet early.

I don’t know. We’ll figure it out one 1/162 slice at a time. But however the story winds up, it’s just baseball. Don’t let it become something that isn’t good for you.

28 comments to It’s Just Baseball

  • Daniel Hall

    Bright sides: maybe R.A. Dickey will in the end get that no-hitter that he was denied in ’12 – today.

    That is all I got.

    • NostraDennis

      I was at that game in Tampa, Daniel, and I never saw a Mets pitcher as dominant over a lineup in a single game as R.A. was that night.

      • Matt

        I saw the one-hitter against Baltimore and felt the same. It was just masterful. Nothing but respect for the guy.

  • Harvey Poris

    Team batting average now .208. How much is the payroll?

  • eric1973

    I’ve always said that misery is a part of the fun, 1987 being ‘Exhibit A,’ before all the Wildcard bullcrap.

    Win or go home.

    Pitching rotation decision was an organizational embarrassment, a decision that should have been made right after the rain out.

    Virtual game time decision was a recipe for disaster, and that is what we got.

  • Dave

    When they sent the nominal long relief guy down, skipping Gsellman’s start and putting him in the pen for a few days made sense. So don’t go making sense then.

    I am of the general belief that wins and losses are on the players for how they perform on the field. But if I see a lineup with both Reyes and Granderson both in it again any time soon, I might join the Fire TC Club.

  • Mikey

    yeah I was not happy when I saw that decision made. you don’t put your 5 against their 1 who has a history of killing us. and leave your pen short in the process. it was just idiotic and a predictable outcome.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Pop Quiz:

    Identify these numbers.

    .000
    .000
    .100
    .111

    Answer:

    The batting averages of 4 of the 5 players on the Met “Bench” going into last night’s game.
    (The other guy was Rene Rivera, no big threat there either).

    Extra Credit: How many RBI’s?

    Zero. Two if you count R. Rivera.

  • Greg Mitchell

    As you know, Gsellman was never a super prospect. Then had a 5.00 era in AAA last year. He go called up and sudddenly started throwing 96 (making his other pitches tougher). Breakthrough! But wait. I haven’t seen a 96 yet this year. Maybe his sinker isn’t sinking either but he might have gotten away with it last year. And now when he gets behind–constantly–he has to throw fastball which is not 96. Wham-o. Wonder what happened.

    At least we know what happened with Fernando “Tossed” Salas.

  • Gil

    Its an abysmal brand of baseball. Ugly.

  • LeClerc

    The Nationals are playing with intelligence, fire, power, speed, and grit (excellent pitching, great hitting, major league fielding).

    The Mets are playing dishwater-dull, stumble-clunk baseball.

    Terry Collins is now a deer in the headlights in the post-game pressers.

    It’s time for Sandy to shake things up and get this team back on track to win the NL East and beyond.

  • 9th string catcher

    I really have no problem throwing our #5 against Teheran who always beats us (other than on Opening Day which is practically always a Mets win). Take the lumps and clear the deck. No Mets’ BA was going to improve against Julio. Now we line up our aces and hopefully get a little rest for the relief corps.

    As for the bats – that’s a little trickier. There’s a reason a team has lots of HRs and not many runs – pitchers can throw strikes to Mets batters whenever they need to. Which results in a lot more easy innings than big rallies, keeping pitch counts low and reducing the sight of junky middle relief pitchers. The all or nothing offense is going to produce HRs, but not as many wins.

    The fact that Granderson is not bunting every time he’s up is criminal. Until he gets his average over .250, he has no business trying to hit 900 ft HRs. If he could keep the defense honest, he could get his hits instead of striking out or hitting into the shift. If Bruce can do it, Granderson sure as hell can.

    Reyes is even trickier. I don’t fault TC for having him try to work his way out of the slump, but it’s not working. If he’s still hitting like a pitcher through 6 weeks of the season, it’s time to put him on the bench for a few weeks or asking him to rehab his bat in the minors. I doubt that Reyes would agree to it, but something’s got to give.

    Bunt, work counts, get on base, less HRs, more strategy, more wins. My suggestion anyway.

    • Gil

      Really good points. The only Met I’ve seen do it is Bruce, and the defense still shifted but less dramatically. Plus he got on base.

      Thor scratched tonight. Sore bicep. The darkest hour is right before the dawn.

  • Greg Mitchell

    The sad fact is that the Nats are a far better team–at least until injuries maybe hit. They are better at every single position except leftfield, now that Turner is at SS and Zimmerman has bounced back ultra-big. And their starters are just as good right now, since they two top aces and the rest are all good to fairly good. Normally I’d say their pen is weaker but given the Mets’ trevails–and until Familia proves he is as he was–you can’t even say that. That’s why some of us were critical of Sandy for not doing more in offseason. Of course, that does not mean the Mets can’t make the wild card–and everything subject to change based in injuries.

  • K. Lastima

    Bring Rosario up, move Cabrera to 3B . . . of course, there’s that nagging small-market minded issue of service time that will prevent the Mets from making this no-brainer move.

  • Greg Mitchell

    On Rosario: I agree, need to at least try. It’s true, Cabrera is very steady at SS (though limited range) so you may lose that, bu his knees or whatever bound to go and 3B might be his career move–and hits more HRs now so profiles there fine.

  • Greg Mitchell

    And now: Noah scratched tonight with “biceps tendonitis” and sent for MRI. Well, at least it explains last-minute move last night.

  • Jacobs27

    I have to agree about the Nats, Greg. They’re a solid, well-balanced team with no obvious weaknesses, and some great strengths. The Mets are definitely not that and don’t match up very well. Our pitching might have a bigger overall upside, but seems more fragile. And this line up — as good as it can be when it clicks — is nowhere near as consistently formidable as the Nats’. I don’t think any opposing starters would hesitate given a choice of which to face.

    Even if/when the Mets eventually stop playing farcically terrible baseball, they’ve got their work cut out for them. I’m afraid it’s the Nats division to lose.

  • Lenny65

    And now Noah is “dealing with” a “tired arm”…he’s 24 years old and it’s April. I mean what can you even say at this point? Right now the Mets are a lifeless, listless, dead-eyed baseball team, stumbling, bumbling and apparently more delicate than wet tissue paper too. While I’ve endured plenty of seasons where they were more or less dead and buried by late April, I can’t remember a year where high expectations were totally shattered as quickly as they have been here in 2017.

  • Greg Mitchell

    On Cespedes: surely you knew he was going to have leg issues every year for rest of career, so paying for 140 games at best guy, right?

  • Gil

    How does Ray Ramirez have a job?

  • NostraDennis

    Jason – I remember reading that same advice last summer from you or Greg. That year turned out better than expected. I hope this one does, too.

  • Lenny65

    These injuries, man. Now every time a pitcher has a horses**t start (like Matt’s today) you automatically think “is he hurt?” as opposed to it just being a horses**t start, like every pitcher has now and again. It makes you jumpy and angsty, the opposite of fun which this is (ideally) supposed to be.

    I normally don’t get into the “is the Mets medical staff competent?” debates as I just don’t know enough about it to make anything other than the typical fan comments. But I have to say, why wasn’t Ces DL’ed right away when his hamstring started barking? Why is TDA playing before he’s 100%? Why have Plawecki on the roster at all? And why wasn’t Noah sent for an exam THE SECOND he said his “arm was tired”? If Cespedes and Syndergaard are battling aches and pains all year we’re going nowhere fast. Ounce of prevention and all that.

  • eric1973

    Even without Ces, this team has talent, and should not be losing every single game, and be in last place. Are you kidding me?

    Ya Gotta Be-Surprised!

  • Eric

    Dropping suddenly from 7-3 and 1st place to 8-13 and last place, with the rest of the baggage, feels like the baseball gods collecting on the debt from the Mets’ improbable charge to their WC berth last season.